[Pages 88]

About the Demblin Way of Life

(Excerpted from a Newspaper “The Observer”. Published in Demblin on December 27, 1933, in honor of the journey to Palestine of Benyamin Zilberman. Edited by Zalman Orlovsky, Yosef Gelibter and Yoneh Borstein.)

Transactions

(by a Demblin Clothing Merchant)

It's 9 o'clock in the morning. I open up my store and there's a customer. “Good morning, we need a donation.” In about 10 minutes I open the door. “We need a donation. We're 2 people here and we need something.” Very soon thereafter, 2 ragged looking Jewish women come in and say, “For a really hungry Jewish family, you have to help us out.” Not 5 minutes go by, I open the door quickly and 2 Jews out of breath come in, “We need a donation for a ticket for a German Jewish refugee, but you've got to do it fast, because the train is pulling out right now.” That's the way it goes all day. A list of good causes: patient visits, hospital fund, house for putting up strangers, book repair, synagogue, meals on the Sabbath…Reb Meir comes in with a delegation an he's got to raise money for the bath house.

Now it's 5 o'clock in the afternoon and I've just managed to take 10 minutes to have a little something to eat. When I come back the tax collector is waiting there.

“Good evening, let me see your tax form. It seems like it's time already. You know what I'm talking about,”

“Believe me”, I answer, “I would take you home, but the tall guy in the fur coat, the tax collector, was just here and cleaned me out just 5 minutes ago. I had to borrow a few dollars to be able to pay him off.”

The guy did not close the door. On the contrary, “Good evening, please make a down payment for this tax, my dear lady, of a penny. The tall guy sat himself down at this point and wrote for 10 minutes and left me a bill with the remark “get busy” and left.

Undoubtedly I would have been able to have 10 more customers, all of them asking for some kind of charity and 5 different tax collectors. But, hearing the whistle of the police, I had to close the doors quickly because I was afraid of getting a summons.

Grabbed by the Hand

A Demblin boy read a Hebrew book.

A Demblin girl made a date with a Demblin boy.

This little flower drew the first pension from the community. This person Brownshpigel.

The Demblin ritual butcher was caught slaughtering animals in the slaughterhouse.

The Demblin Rabbi Shlit was caught making a judgment on Jewish law which people had brought to him, and his wife didn't collect the fee for it.

Prizes

A prize of 500 zlotys to anybody who can find the secretary of the Jewish community in his office at any time from 9 in the morning until 2 in the afternoon. And see the President about this.

A prize of 100 zlotys to the speaker from the Zionist group who doesn't curse Zionism.

A prize of 200 zlotys to the pioneer who spends 3 months on a Kibbutz and doesn't take 6 leaves of absence.

A prize of a 100 zlotys for the delivery person of the newspaper if once in a whole week they bring the newspaper.

A worthless ship's ticket for the pioneer who will say that he has traveling expenses to go to Israel on his own.

A prize of 50 zlotys for the person who can go to the Rabbi's office during the day and not find him asleep.

A prize of 500 zlotys for the person who can get Yankel Feigenboim a job.

Important News

The person Elenblum, in his speech about the budget of the Jewish Council greatly praised the activity of the president
Sh. N. Luxemburg.

[Actual copy of the newspaper]

The Zionist, L. L. was seen at a Zionist lecture.

The pioneers Shlome Rubenstein and Ali Feigenboim, this week looked for a Zionist organization.

The Rabbi's wife this Friday wasn't able to get 2 zlotys from Shemeryle.

A pioneer this week traveled to Palestine and had traveling expenses.

The pioneer got a little drunk and began to scream out “I will be Greenboim”.

The Demblin Jewish Council began to circulate its announcements in Hebrew as well.

The Demblin Rabbi Shilt gave a talk and didn't refer to the psalms once.

Whe a pioneer turned to the Jewish Council for a subsidy of 1200 zlotys, the council cane back and gave him 2400 zlotys.

Advertisements

A good, well run business to provide meals for the afternoon meal and havdala at the eastern wall of our synagogue. Attention, this business is free of taxes and go see about it to the pennant.

All ready to be taken over, a very well run business with an apartment and bathroom and an excellent clientele, see about it through Mendel F.

We are looking for a Shames to wake the Rabbi up. See about this through the Jewish Council.

 


[Pages 92]

The Jews of Demblin until the Holocaust

by Fidelis Stamphian / Demblin-Zayejeje

The author of this work is a Pole who lives in a suburb of Demblin, Zayejeje. When the editors of our book turned to the city officials in Demblin about supplying certain materials for the book an answer came that Stamphian was especially designated to take over this matter. Mr. Stamphian did not disappoint us. He sent us for the book a great deal of historical material about the city and about Jewish life there. But the most important thing that this gentile did was to send us tens of pictures of Jewish families in Demblin before the War as well as photographs of societal significance of that epic.

The book committee and editor are not in agreement with all the facts, conclusions and valuations that Mr. Stamphian makes concerning Jewish life, especially in the years between 1914 an 1939, but they have not changed the text, leaving the final conclusions to the readers and the future historians.

About the destruction of Demblin's Jewry, we have published Stamphian's work in Hebrew in a section called “Holocaust and Struggle”.

The History of Demblin

The name Demblin comes from the great number of oak trees [Dem means oak], which grow in the whole area near where the Wieprz flows into the Vistula.

The growth of Demblin is described in a work by Yan Chayadlo – called “Generations Speak”, in the first issue, 1959. He backs up with various documents from the descriptions in the “12 th Volume” written by the priest, Yevim Fredereich Bistjitsky, who was in an office of the Parish of Stenjitza. He lived at the end of the 18 th century.

The King Vladislav Lokyetek gave Demblin as an eternal gift, to the Knight of Yeshkovitch for his services to the King. In that time Demblin was a little courtyard with a few little houses of the peasants who were in service to the Knight. The Knight built a very luxurious court to replace the old courtyard, enlarging the farm and imprisoning prisoners of war.

In the 15 th century, the area of Demblin was in the possession of the Tarnovsky's. They built Demblin up and in the neighboring Bobrownik they established a church.

In the 16 th century Demblin was turned over to the Menishek family and remained in their possession until the year 1806.

In 1726, the Demblin area became the property of Count Yozef Vandalis Menishek, Poland's crown Marshall and the possessor of a magnatishen hoif [couldn't translate].

Demblin can thank Count Menishek for its blossoming which happened during the second half of the 18 th century in the epic of the Renaissance. Demblin was built up and a very elegant and impressive court was established.

This elegant residence in Demblin was built by the famous architect of Kaiser August II of Saxony, Antony Fontan, and thereafter by his son Yacov.

Further work to make this elegant residence more beautiful was carried out by Yan Karol Menishek and his son Michael Yejy, who had taken on the position of the major secretary for the crown and from the year 1781 he was the president of the commission for the national education. Michael Yejy Menishek, in 1780, brought to Demblin the chief architect of the King Stanislaw August Poniatovsky – Dominic Merliniyeg. This was with the help of the King himself, who wanted for his niece Ursula, of the Zamoyisky family, the wife of the last of the Menishek's, to build a palace similar to the Lajenkis palace in Warsaw.

The Demblin palace was covered on the outside with carvings, the floors were raised and the hall was made much wider and bigger, the outer appearance of the palace was made more beautiful with a very elegant gate and the two towers, one of which stands until today as well as a beautiful park which was laid out by the famous architect and planner Shuch. On the little island in the pond a very impressive mausoleum was built, following the example of the one at the Lajenkis palace in Warsaw. Demblin became a center for modernism and culture.

The Count Menishek, one of the first in Poland, in the month of May, 1783, installed a lightening rod at his residence which was at that time called a conductor and this was after the example of the American scholar and politician Benjamin Franklin. The supervision of the installation of the lightning rod was given to the priest, Y. F. Bistjitzky, who was the court astronomer of Stanislaw August Poniatovsky. He immortalized all of this in his descriptions the “12 th Volume”.

The last owner of Demblin from the Menishek family, Yejy-Michael, was allied with the traitor to the people, the so called “Tagovitze”. He belonged to the circle around the Czarina, Yekaterina II, and he conducted a secret espionage for the Czarist regime. He died in 1806 with the shameful reputation of being a traitor to his own land and people.

The daughter of Yejy-Michael, Paulina-Konstantzye married Antony Yablonsky and for her dowry presented him with Demblin.

The prince Antony Yablonsky, for his part in the Dekabrish conspiracy, was arrested and sent to Saratov Gubernia in Russia. The princess Paulina-Konstantzye followed her husband into exile.

For the next 10 years the Demblin palace was empty. In the early days of the owners of Princess Yablonsky, a short sort of rebirth occurred but the palace never returned to its former glory.

In 1836, the princess Yablonsky sold her possession and Demblin came under authority of the Russian regime.

In 1830, the November rebellion broke out which was crushed in a bloody manner in 1831. The person who had responsibility for the crushing of this uprising was General Ivan Paskevitch, who was appointed the Czar's representative in the Polish Kingdom and received the title of the Prince of Warsaw. In 1842, Czar Nikolai I presented Paskevitch with Demblin which constituted the farms: Demblin, Podviyejviya, Vimislov, Borove, Matige and Borovine. The territory of which this constituted was made up of 12,000 acres and the largest part of the territory was forest.

At the moment that the Prince Paskevitch took over Demblin, its long decline began, until the change of the name Demblin to Ivanover.

The composition of the area took in the following settlements: Miyejviyontska, Ritshietz, Klestshuvke, Mostshanka, New-Demblin, Lason, Sendovitch, Niyebjegov, Niyetshietz, Golomb, Boruv, Balton, Vulka Golembska and the settlement of Borovnik and Irena.

In the era of Prince Paskevitch the growth of Irena was established in 1854. The name comes from Paskevitch's wife Irena. The same applies to the little river that flows there and carries the name of Irena as well.

In 1842, according to an order of the Czar, the creation of the town of Modzjitz began at the confluence of the Wieprz and the Vitula and a fortress was built which was designed to create a sense of fear and awe in the whole district and thus discourage any kind of rebellion or mutiny.

The newly created fortress, at the Czar's order, was named Ivangorod (this time it was named for Field Marshal Ivan Paskevitch), the same name was given to the train station and the train line over the Vistula bridge.

While building the fortress, a lot of crafts people as well as unskilled laborers were employed who had settled in Demblin. At the same time as the workers arrived, Jews came, and they opened supply stores. After that came artisans. Thus, one can establish the beginnings of the Jewish presence when the construction of the fortress began, and not the changing of Demblin into Irena.

In the year 1881, Irena had 2,309 inhabitants in 96 wooden houses. Irena then also had a town council, a loan and savings bank, a postal office, a pharmacy, a doctor, a steam mill, a brewery for normal beer, a liquor warehouse, three taverns, and among them were the old inns in Bobrownik which were run by Jewish families, and also one small school in Bobrownik. In the general population Jews were included, but their exact count is not known.

The composition of the Irena district took in Demblin, Borovnik, Grombetshizne, Kamelonke, Klestshuvke, Krasnogline, Krokovaska, Lason, Masov, Melinkov, Miyejviontshke, Mostshanke, Podviyejviya, Ritsshitch, Sendovitch and Zadzare.

Before the establishment of Irena, Jews had previously lived in Bobrownik. A sign of this is the cemetery in Bobrownik where many people were buried from Bobrownik, Stenjitz and later from Irena.

In 1863 the January uprising broke out. According to Yan Skotnitsky, the owner of Bobrownik, the inhabitants of the Irena district took part in the uprising. Some of them fought in the ranks of the rebels, others were engaged in the tasks of gathering news and intelligence and passing that on to the active combatants.

Field Marshall Ivan Paskevitch lived in Demblin. He was the appointed representative of the Czar, so it was from him and through him that all important orders passed. Among those who served the Field Marshall were the men who were, body and soul, dedicated to the uprising. Theses people overheard the consultations of the Field Marshall and his assistants and they looked over at the correspondence and they wrote down important bits of intelligence in order to pass them on the Polish rebels.

Within the Demblin palace those who sympathized with the uprising organized a little postal system which operated with the greatest of secrecy and conspiracy. Nobody knew who brought the mail into the palace and who got it out.

In Bobrownik, a Jewish family by the name of Motek lived who provided various kinds of products to the palace, such as fish and butter. The Field Marshall knew Motek personally and was very fond of him in his role as a supplier Motek had free access into the palace. The directors of the uprising had a conference with Motek and entrusted him with the office of being a messenger and a collector of intelligence in this little spy system of espionage mail from Bobrownik to the palace and back. Together with the fish and butter Motek supplied, he brought in and took out the mail. The whole system of hiding this correspondence was devised with a great deal of skill and efficiency.

In a corridor of the Demblin palace the garments of the Field Marshall were always hanging – summer and winter clothes. Motek devised a plan whereby the mail in the palace which arrived in the winter, would be put into the summer clothes and in summer, in the pockets of the winter overcoats. This was the best organized mail system of all those involved in the rebellion. Thanks to the daring and devotion of Motek, the rebel units were never defeated.

Once there was a bit of intelligence about a transport of money from Petersburg, in order to take care of the expenses of the treasury at the fortress. Motek passed this information onto the rebels who lay in wait in the forest by Jejin, they killed the people who were in the carriages delivering this, and took the money. It was a great amount in a trunk, and that money greatly helped the rebels.

After the failure of the rebellion, Field Marshall Paskevitch moved out of the palace at Demblin to his residence in Homel, along with all that had artistic worth. He even moved out the furniture, the plaques with the coat of arms of the various owners, and the carvings which embellished the front of the palace.

After the death of Field Marshal Paskevitch, Demblin was inherited by his son Fiodore. Fiodore was not in agreement with his father's politics, as a matter of fact he had sympathy for the Poles and sincerely felt for them in their oppressed state. He didn't want to live anymore in the palace at Demblin with the complaint that from every corner the wrongs done to the Polish people were staring out at him.

Fiodore Paskevitch dedicated himself to the service of the Czar and was called to the Czar's private circle as a personal assistant to Alexander III. He received this job as a result of his father's service.

The Demblin palace stood empty. It had been vandalized and emptied of everything of value. The loss of the lovely appearance of the palace quickly went to ruin as well as the park nearby which had become overgrown and wild.

But the total ruin of the palace was accomplished in the First World War. While the palace was rotting away, Irena continued to grow. The new houses that were being built and the increase in the population occurred as a result of the growth of the garrison in the Demblin fortress. Along with that came an increase and development in trade and industry. The Jewish population, a dynamic, hard working and thrifty one, increased its wealth quickly and the money that was being earned was translated into buying of new land and the building of new houses.

Before the outbreak of the First World War, Irena was already a big community. The Rynek was established with beautiful houses, a beautiful city hall and wooden structures which housed businesses and dwellings. The industry developed, workshops were established for tailors, shoemakers, and blacksmiths. People came to Demblin from other settlements. The settlements of Bobrownik and Stenjitz were almost completely emptied of Jews. Jews from Gniveshov and Ryki came as well.

With the growth of the population, a quick enlargement of the town occurred. New streets were built, like Okulna, which encircled the Rynek on the north side. The Senatorske (which came from Rynek from the north side to Okulna), Potshove and Warshavsky street – which ran from west to east. The new streets had more structures, stable and with walls, one story houses were built on Okulna and Warshavsky street. Industrial enterprises were established like a sawmill and a big carpentry shop, which belonged to Jews.

With the growth of the population and its needs, the religious life of the Jews developed. On Okulna street a ritual bath and a synagogue and study hall were built. The synagogue was saved from destruction but the ritual bath was destroyed. On Warshavsky street a school was established where Jewish children learned as well. Doctors, dentists and teachers set up shop. The Jews lived at peace with the Polish population, they took an active part in the building up and in the administration of their town. Jews were council people, they collected taxes to build streets and the Rynek.

Demblin got cobbled streets with electric lights.

Irena possessed 5,000 inhabitants, half of whom were Jews.

Irena lived a full life not sensing that on the horizon a storm was moving which was to break out in the First World War.

In the First World War

The outbreak of the First World War found the Jews in Irena living mainly on both sides of Okulna street, Senatorske and Potchove and on the Rynek. Some Jewish houses were also to be found on Warshavsky street, especially on the north side of it, up to the Irena river.

On the Rynek there was also a building where the town offices were, now one can find there the directorship of the local national council. The Rynek was used as a market place every Wednesday, when there was a big fair. There the peasants' wagons stood with products to sell and there garments and other kinds of merchandise were set out to be sold. The less important market day was on Fridays.

The Jews who lived in Irena in those days were mainly occupied with business. They also had a tailor, shoe making, carpenter, and blacksmith workshops and others. At that time in Irena there were about 3,000 Jews living.

The concentration of this great number of Jews created favorable circumstances for the development of their religious and educational life. Thus, even before the First World War, a school was established on Okulna street and a heder was established on Senatorska where Hebrew language was taught. The school was burned down by the Germans as soon as they came into the town in September 1939. Now a city bath is located where the school was. The wooden building that housed the Senatorska heder was destroyed together with the other buildings.

Favorable circumstances contributed to the development of Irena as well as to the growth and well being of the Jewish population.

The first days of the War did not shatter the normal life of the town, the War was coming from some place very distant. From the secure life that people had in Irena, people didn't feel threatened, especially because of the enormous fortress which had been developed to protect them. Trade and industry continued to flourish. The well being of the inhabitants grew.

From the left side of the Vistula, closer to the front, Jewish and Polish refugees began to arrive in Irena. They brought with them only their valuables, things that they could get money for. They needed places to stay and food to eat. In exchange for money, they could get whatever they needed in town. But this little period didn't last very long.

In the second half of 1915, the Germans took Demblin. The change of money made everybody feel good. The official currency was the German mark, but the currency of the street was the ruble. This was not very good for business because the marks were not in circulation and for rubles one was not able to get fresh merchandise. The same was true for industry because of a lack of raw material. In 1916, Demblin went over into the hands of the Austrians. From then on craft and business practically died in the town.

The population of Irena suffered a lack of food, clothing, coal, and soap. Those who felt it the worse were the poor, but the rich suffered as well. The unending search of the population which lacked food and other necessities brought about epidemics. In the beginning there was typhoid fever, and during autumn and winter, typhus. The epidemics destroyed many families. Daily there were funerals. Whole families died. The influenza stopped with the arrival of the really cold weather, but typhus, for many years thereafter, was a threat to the population.

Poland's Independence

In 1918, Poland became independent. A new spirit entered the population of Irena.

Regardless of the wounds that they'd received, the population of Irena began to rebuild their lives with hope and belief in a better tomorrow as they began to build their new nation.

The War, hunger and sickness had struck the Jewish population hard so that after the War, the number of Jews was only 1.5 thousand.

The Jewish population, always hard working and thrifty, energetically worked to rebuild business which had been destroyed. Everyday another store would reopen. Within there were empty shelves, but that didn't last long. After awhile merchandise began to appear. On everybody's lips was a smile of happiness that they had made it through the hardest times. The stores and workshops were really open now, but the trade conditions still weren't really that favorable. The young Polish nation was not capable yet of producing the raw materials and merchandise that were needed by its crafts people and business people. It was quite chaotic. From 1921 to 1923, there was a devaluation of the mark and the prices skyrocketed. The worth of money dropped from hour to hour. The military and other officials would get their salaries paid several times in a month, but that didn't help either.

[See PHOTO=A13 at the end of Section A]

A peasant would sell a cow today, hide the money, and then the next day he couldn't afford to even buy a sheep with the money. Just as fast as trade had expanded did it collapse. Stores closed again and once again Irena went through a very hard period. The year 1922 arrived. The fortress in Demblin was full of military personnel. Within her walls was stationed the 15 th Infantry Regiment. The train line activity was reinvigorated. Within the grounds of the old Demblin palace, they began to build structures for what became the flight school. Landless peasants came to settle in Irena. Together with Poles came Jews. The arrival of the military and the growth of the population were a sign of better days.

In 1925 Demblin became the sight of an officer school for fliers. The garrison got bigger. Soldiers, officers and non commissioned officers, came. They were well paid, which helped to renew the commerce.

The favorable conditions and the quick increase in trade influenced the growth of the Jewish population to such an extent that the wounds of the War were quickly healed. The number of Jews grew to 4,500, that was 54% of the overall population of the district of Irena.

The quick building up and the development of Irena was thanks to the favorable geographic situation of Demblin, because the intersection of the train lines from the south to the north and from the east to the west, were the roads used for war. The transportation of goods along the Vistula and the surrounding rivers to Warsaw was the cheapest route of communication.

In the 1930's Irena lived through the best period. The overflowing streets were not able to contain all the Jews and that called for the construction of new streets. The Jewish contractors bought sites on the Bank street and built houses there. The same thing also happened on Warshavsky street. There it was mainly businesses that were constructed. The banks played a very important role in the development of Irena and these banks were directed by Jews.

Religious Life

Whereas Irena was a center of Jewish population, the need was created for organizing a religious life that was local. To this task, with the support of the Jewish community, a synagogue was built on Okulna street as well as a bath nearby. After the building of the synagogue the community brought a Rabbi, Rabbi Emanuel Gershon Rabinovitch, who was very wise with a distinguished education and an exceptional intelligence. With his authority he gave the the tone that established good relations between the Jews and the Polish population. But about that, a little later.

Rabbi Emanuel Rabinovitch, with the help of the Hasidim, directed the religious life of all the Jews. With the help of the Hasidim, he obtained from the chief of the regiment that was stationed there, an exchange of money for food, so that the Jewish soldiers could eat from kosher Jewish homes. Most of the yeshiva students profited from this arrangement. Everyday they went from the regiment into town to eat at the houses of Jews.

In the regiment, which was stationed at Demblin, Jews were employed. Rabbi Rabinovitch had influence over them. On important holidays the Jewish soldiers marched in rows into synagogue to pray. On Passover and Succoth, the Jewish soldiers went everyday to eat as a religious obligation. Each regiment had its Jewish soldiers sent under the supervision of a non-commissioned officer. Over all of them a special officer was assigned who was the delegate from the military authority.

Rabbi Rabinovitch received this official delegate at his house and the soldiers were well received by the Jewish community.

Each year the Rabbi gave the oath to the soldiers. After the giving of the oath, the Rabbi, with the religious representatives of other religions, was the guest of the regiment. More than once you could see a military Chaplain having a very cordial talk with the Rabbi. If the Rabbi, on occasion, didn't have his own carriage, he was often invited to ride along with the Chaplain who would drive back to town in his automobile.

Matters of Health

In Irena there wasn't an organized service for the sick. There were only hospitals in bigger towns. If there was a real need for that kind of care the Jews from Irena went to Jewish hospitals in Warsaw and Radom. Quicker help for the population was provided by private doctors: Kornelshtein and the healer Vanapol. The dentists, Dr. Parisova, Chana Vanapol and the technical-dentists, Ahron and Natan Vanapol.

Since the population strictly observed religious laws, they only would eat meat that was slaughtered in the proper way by a ritual butcher. The supervision of the religious slaughter was conducted by the veterinarian, Kalman Paris.

The Jewish doctors, in general, were esteemed by the Polish population as well. Especially honored was the service of the Vanapol family, even now you can hear among the people from the old generation, very, very high praise for the healing abilities and medical help that they gave to the sick.

Education and Culture

Until Poland's independence, the Jewish children studied almost exclusively in heders, not in public schools. At the beginning of the period when compulsory education was introduced, Jewish children went to the “Poveschechne” school, together with Polish children.

[See PHOT-A14 at the end of Section A]

After finishing public school, a lot of the Jewish children studied further in the city high school, together with Polish youth.

From that time when Poland received its independence, the activity of the schools in Irena developed quickly. One school wasn't able to take care of all of the students. They had to open school number two on Warshavsky street, and soon after, a high school.

In the public school, the Jewish children who wished, were allowed to take Saturday off. But not in the high school. The administration there, because each day required some special study to take place, would not allow them that kind of leeway. It's not possible after so many years to list all of the Jewish children in the high school. I'll just list a few of them: Shlome Shtern – a son of a poor widow, Lena Shtern, Chana Shteinbuch, a daughter of the Pinkuses, who lives to day in Germany, and Perla Ekheiser, the daughter of Reb Yosef. The last person finished her high school education in secret with the help of Professor Peshvilska.

A cultural life besides the movies hardly didn't exist. There were two movie theaters, “Lotnik”, and the one in the fortress. There were 3 active days in the week, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. On Fridays, most of the Jewish children would come, although also on other days they would come a great deal as well. Not long before the beginning of the War, a new cinema was built on Warshavsky street and it was a partnership between the Jews and Poles. The movie theater, Irena, outlived the War, and is used by the population until today.

Banks

The development of Irena, the need of the businessmen and of the Jewish population, brought forth a need to create banks where one could locate capital as well as in time of special need, get credit. To this task, on the Bank street [Bankova], a bank building was built. Money for the bank was raised through an action committee, the bank director was Yozef.

In the first years when the business climate was favorable the banks were a very beneficial part of commerce. And the people who were in the bank committee, who had founded it, did very well for themselves. It wasn't however capable of serving the whole population and so a cooperative bank was founded on Warshavsky street in the house of Zjelechovsky. It's name alone demonstrated that it was a bank of shareholder members. The director of the bank was the lawyer Kannaryenfogel. To the directorship belonged Teichman, Ehjeiser, Yosef Shulman, Freyis and Weinberg.

The cooperative bank showed itself to be a very useful institution, not only for the Jewish population, but also for the Polish.

The cooperative bank conducted useful work until the outbreak of the Second World War.

Other Institutions

The development of Irena and the founding of various institutions, meant that there was an increased need to develop the lines of communication with the national administration. It called forth the need for a judicial bureau. To this task were assigned 2 officers for judicial consultation which were directed by the lawyer Kannaryenfogel who was also the President of the cooperative bank and by Yaacov Ekheiser, together with Joseph Ehkeiser.

The Jewish community was also active and it also took a part in giving judicial advice. The Jewish population didn't go eagerly into the Polish court system. So all legal disputes which were among Jews were heard by the Jewish council and if the council wasn't able to bring the two sides to an agreement, it went to a religious court. The person who stood in judgment there was Joseph Ekheiser. A judgment from the Jewish court was one that no Jew could violate, whether he won or lost. With a decision from a religious court, he had to make his peace with it. But the legal disputes between Jews and Poles were dealt with through the State court system. The closest was in Pulaw because Irena belonged to the Pulaw district.

Industry, Crafts and Trade

Branches of industries like these were in Jewish hands: banking, a beer brewery where liquor was poured into bottles, a factory of soda water, a sawmill, tailor workshops, shoe workshops, a special boot workshop, blacksmiths, locksmiths and carpenters.

Most of the commerce was in Jewish hands except for the pharmacy, the pharmaceutical warehouse, a store with hard liquor, writing supplies, a tobacco warehouse, stores where pork flesh was sold and one cooperative food store. In the last years there were 2 or 3 colonial stores set up. There was also one restaurant in Polish hands.

Other services that Jews supplied included hairdressers, teamsters, cab drivers and porters.

Eighty percent of the hair dressers were Jewish. Some of them were on Jewish streets, like Rynek and Okulna. The biggest part of them were on Warshavsky street and served Poles.

The development of industry and trade couldn't have been successful without the development of transportation. A class of teamsters was established. They were very, very necessary, because Irena was 3 kilometers from the train station. From the loading point on the Vistula, it was 2.5 kilometers away.

Since the teamsters couldn't do all the required work by themselves, they hired workers to load and unload merchandise. These workers, with time, developed into skilled porters.

Besides teamsters, the cab drivers served the population, 90% of them were Jewish.

From the ranks of the businessmen and the industrialists I will mention and list only those who one remembers until today.

Businessmen who dealt in food stuffs – Adelman – who had a food warehouse; Tschatshkes – who had a store of food; Melitzkevitch – who had a food store. The owners were well known for their fair way of doing business and the quality of their merchandise.

A store where iron products were sold belonged to Rozen and Mendel Rozenberg. The latter had a wholesale business and supplied all of the institutions in Demblin. He was the supplier for the military. There were 2 smaller stores where iron products were sold, on Okulna street and on Rynek.

Manufacturing sites also belonged to Zjelechovsky and Rueben. There were also smaller ones where on normal days the trade took place within a store, and on days of the big market, they would set out their wares on the Rynek. With their straganes [wares or garments] they also traveled to Gniveshov on market day. And on Thursdays they went to Ryki. The trade in straganes was spread over between the branches of clothes and shoes.

Among the well known firms, Teichman's store of radio and electric tools should be noted; the furniture store of Price; the watch store of Shulman. There were also a variety of different stores where shoes were sold, hats, where there was business in grain, in vegetables and fruits, in paint, in fowl, milk products, bicycles, tools, soda water and sweets.

There were also 2 lumber yards where building materials were sold. One was run by Rueben Yosef and Rozeman on Warshavsky street, and the second on Sochotzky street belonged to Sheinzicht. The sawmill on Bank street belonged to Rozenman.

The beer factory and representing the Haberbush firm was Kamiyan. His warehouse was on the Bank street. The 2 soda factories belonged to Weinburg and Gilibter. They served practically the whole population of the town.

Well known and esteemed because of their courteous service, tasty gefilte fish and other delicacies were the taverns of Luxemberg on Warshavsky street and Beckerblut on Rynek. A specialty of Luxemberg's tavern was the Fish-Machlim [fish delicacy], cooked in the Jewish fashion, and Beckerblut's tavern was well known for its wonderful cooked goose and god beer. The taverns were frequently sought out by those who loved good food, Jews as well as gentiles. Every day except for Sabbath, the taverns were overflowing with guests.

In Irena there were 4 Jewish bakeries which serviced the Jewish population with a variety of different kinds of breads, challahs, bagels, pretzels and sweets. The bakery of Natan Kaminsky, on Warshavsky street baked almost exclusively for the Poles, although the bakery of Kaminsky's son, on Okulna street, baked for everybody. Bread was also made at Shtamler's bakery on Okulna and Krinchaltz' on Rynek and also at Feldfeders.

The trade in cattle flesh was completely in the hands of the Jews. Butcher stores were run by Korman and Adelshtein on Warshavsky street, Rechtman on Rynek and Puterflan on Senatoske street.

A supplier of many meats to the military for many years and of hay, especially for the 15 th Infantry Regiment, was Pinchas Steinbuch; a supplier for the military hospital was Lena Shtern, she furnished calf meat, butter, eggs, honey and cheese.

The sale of State lottery tickets was conducted by Yosef Nai, who lives today in Lodz.

Tailor shops were 90% in Jewish hands. The well known tailors were Luxemberg on Warshavsky street who was a master tailor with a diploma from Paris. The highest measure of elegance was an outfit made by Luxemberg. That's why really almost all of the officers and non-commissioned officers had their uniform jackets and trousers sewn by the Luxemberg firm. The young and less well paid non-commissioned officers had their uniforms made by Moshe Danovitch and others. Besides these, there were also tailor shops run by Hertzky, Borkovitch, Lindover, Rosentzweig, Katcke and Europa.

Rosentzweig and Europa, at the same time, dealt in finished clothes. In the selling of already completed garments, other people also took part. And that included people who didn't have their own shops but put their garments out for sale at the markets. These took place on Wednesday in Irena, and Thursday in Ryki. The same was true for shoes and for hats and wash and bedding.

Among the shoemakers one can count Adelshtein and Choleva. They made shoes according to order and measurement. Other shoemakers made shoes which they simply then sold at the market.

With the passage of 25 years, it's not possible without the relevant documents to list all of the Jewish families and their names. The names have vanished from memory. All the documents were destroyed in the time of the War.

Of the families which lived in Irena, one should list the following: the singer Borenshtein, Federbush, Zilberman, Rubenstein, Laibruder, Friedman, Ainshidler, Tzuker, Goldberg, Kaminsky's son Yitzhak and daughter Poyle.

Until the year 1936, the growth of the population was rapid. Over a hundred births a year, and that's while the mortality rate was small, about 20 people a year.

The Count of Jews becomes smaller

Despite the great increase and the low mortality rate, the number of Jews diminished. In 1938 they were 46% of the overall population: from 4,500 in 1936 to 4,000 in 1938. The reason for the reduction of the Jewish population must be sought in emigration to bigger cities where it was easier to get work and make better wages or where the general business climate was more favorable. As an example I can site Europa, despite the fact that he had several houses in Irena, he went to Warsaw, and there he bought a house and conducted a business on the Elektoralna street. I mean that in the emigration to other cities, Europa was not just a lone individual, there were many others who did the same thing.

Jews took an active role in the life of the town. They were council members and the village magistrate position was held for many years by David Rubinshtein.

In the time of ever growing fascism in the country and the arrival of the plague of Hitlerism in Germany, there wasn't the least persecution of Jews in Irena. The business and life in general went on very quietly. The population worked and earned, not anticipating that from the west, a black cloud was approaching. The day neared of the outbreak of the Second World War.

Zayejeje, December 2, 1966

 

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